Standby power – the vampire in your home

We all love a tip that can save you money and now there’s one small change you can make that can lower your energy usage too. It all starts with a flick of a switch…

“Vampire power” is working behind the scenes to consume energy even when your appliances are turned off.  So what is it? Also known as Standby power, it refers to the energy drawn down by an appliance when it’s not in use.

The impact of standby power functions on household bills cost Australian consumers a combined $860 million annually. By turning off appliances at the wall, you can save up to $100 per year. 

Switch off and save: Did you know that standby power still costs you money?

Despite decreasing 68 per cent in the past decade, standby power is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity consumption. 

According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, standby power consumption costs the average household almost $100 per year.

Despite decreasing 68 per cent in the past decade, standby power is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity consumption. 

In addition to the standby cost, these hungry devices are also responsible for almost 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.


Which appliances drain the most power in your home?

Although our appliances and devices are getting smarter, the below table from consumer organisation Choice shows just how greatly the standby power consumption can vary. 

Here are a few examples of everyday products and the impact they can have on your power bill:

PRODUCT LOWEST STANDBY COST – per quarterHIGHEST STANDBY COST – per quarterHIGHEST STANDBY COST – annually
Multifunction printer$0.00$29.56$118.24
Wireless VOIP router$2.55$6.35$25.40
Speaker docks$0.15$4.75$19.00
Washing machine$0.00$1.90$7.60
Microwave oven$0.23$1.18$4.72
Clothes dryer $0.07$0.27$1.72
Air con – large$0.01$0.27$1.08
Home theatre system$0.01$0.06$0.23
TVs – 100-115cm$0.01$0.01$0.05
Blu-Ray players$0.00$0.01$0.05

As you can see, while the quarterly usage costs are not incredibly high, they do add up. It pays to shop around and check the star-rating of your appliances. 


Top 5 tips to manage your standby power

  1. Switch off your appliances at the wall where possible.
  2. Install a standby power controller.  Check the energy rating of new appliances to see if standby power consumption is included.
  3. Buy everyday-use appliances such as fridges based on lowest running costs and best performance
  4. Check your energy-rating. Even though a device might have a low standby power cost, the overall energy efficiency when it’s turned on should also be taken into account.
  5. Take the surprise out of bills by checking out Origin’s Predictable Plan. With Predictable Plan, you can choose to pay your instalments fortnightly or monthly and even sync payments to the day you get paid. Payments are taken via direct debit, meaning you’ll never need to worry about paying your bill on time.

Check out more energy saving tips here.

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